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Too much has happened in the three years, seven months, and 28 days since the release of Natalie Mering’s 2019 Weyes Blood opus, Titanic Rising. That gorgeous record preceded an exceptionally dark period in history — a grim fact she addresses in a statement accompanying the announcement of her next album, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow, and the release of its lead single, “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody.”
“Titanic Rising was the first album of three in a special trilogy,” Mering writes. “It was an observation of things to come, the feelings of impending doom. And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow is about entering the next phase, the one in which we all find ourselves today — we are literally in the thick of it. Feeling around in the dark for meaning in a time of instability and irrevocable change. Looking for embers where fire used to be.”
“It’s Not Just Me,” which is also Hearts Aglow‘s opening track, is a six-minute overture to this search, introducing the hope and despair that flood our hearts alternately as we attempt to find meaning amid the wreckage of life as we once knew it. Ultimately, though, it’s a song about acceptance — about finding comfort and common ground in our shared lonesomeness.
The song plays out over orchestral instrumentation, a fitting backdrop for the symphonic, existential scale of the album’s concept. Co-produced by Mering alongside her Titanic Rising collaborator Jonathan Rado (Foxygen) and Scottish hitmaker Rodaidh McDonald, it expands on the grandeur of her previous project, giving her towering voice an even more splendid platform.
Calling the track triumphant, however, would be misleading. Undergirding the melodrama of Mering’s music is a deep skepticism for the human ability to change. Her melancholy is that of a guarded optimist who’s witnessed the crushing cruelty of the world, but continues — against her own best judgment — to hold out hope for it.